We’ve all heard that age is but a number. And while it is true that all your clients want nice whatever their age-a 20-something client’s idea of the perfect service can be much different than that of a 50-something client. Here we give you some insight into the file and times of your clients and arm you with service ideas to tempt every age group.

Performing the same services day in and day out may have the effect of reducing each client to a pair of hands. But succumbing to this tunnel vision may be the kiss of death for nail techs, opening the door to boredom and burnout. Prevent your business from becoming stagnant by becoming reacquainted with your clients and their needs. To help you do this we’ve divided clients into age brackets and teased out what makes them tick. Instead of being simply a pair of hands, each client represents an opportunity to try something new, to offer a unique service, and retail specific products.

SYNOPSIS: Clients in their 20s are full of potential, but they are not necessarily the most loyal. According to the 2003-2004 Big Book, women ages 21-25 make up 12.8% of your clientele.

At this point in their lives, very few 20-somethings view nails as a necessity. Drawn into the salon more for special occasions or seasonal services such as tanning and pedicures, these clients are not looking for the long-term commitment of standing appointments. More appealing to them is being able to pop in and out of a salon on a whim. “They’re in a state of change,” says Kelvin St. Pham, owner of St. K Salon in Gardena, Calif.” They want to try new things on their own schedule.”

So, while you can’t count on them to regularly shell out big bucks for nail enhancements, they are more open to services such as nail art, colored acrylic, and colored gel enhancements than your older clients. Also, being a bona fide “MTV generation,” 20-somethings tend to be extremely clued in to fashion trends and celebrity styles-and not beyond trying a few on for size.

THE BOTTOM LINE: 20-somethings represent a great opportunity to keep your business fun today and develop loyal clients a few years down the line. Encourage experimenting while educating them on proper nail care.

Service suggestion: take advantage of your young clients’ sense of adventure and offer-fun but not cutesy-nail art. Here we enlisted nail artist Mie Asada of Gardena, Calif., to create a wearable colored acrylic set. Mixing red and purple colored acrylic powders with a soft white, we created creamy pastels. The polka dots were encased in a sheer pink and Asada sculpted a clear free edge for extra kick. This quirky design had the NAILS editors raving.

SYNOPSIS: In 2000, the average woman in the U.S. was 36.5 years old, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The sheer numbers of American women in their 30s are staggering-in 2000 there were 21,576,587 living in the U.S., easily out numbering any other age group. Not surprisingly, clients in their 30s make up roughly one quarter of your clientele-and they have a lot going on.

Whether it be family or career, most women are getting their life rolling in earnest in their 30s. “They’re getting serious, calming down,” says Pham of the group. This translates into less free time and an increased interest in no-fuss nail services. This spells good news for you, the nail tech. their increased maturity marks the beginning of a good business relationship with you.

“Crazy nail art and super bright colors probably aren’t appropriate for the office,” points out Pham. Their nail needs are dictated by what their active lifestyle will support. Be prepared to offer 30-something clients a variety of nail services-from timesaving mini-services, to traditional manicures and pedicures, to enhancements, to more whimsical specialty services.

THE BOTTOM LINE: While they have the means to spring for a fancy pedicure, they may be more drawn to easy-to-wear enhancements. Short to medium lengths and sporty shapes are ideal for ladies in their 30s.

Service suggestion: Medium to short-length artificial enhancements let mothers-on-the-go and working women maintain beautiful nails as well as their active lifestyle. Here we gave a [very obviously] newly engaged woman a set of medium-length acrylic enhancements that will look lovely in her wedding photos but will also be easy to live with in her daily life.

SYNOPSIS: Women in their 40s are either longtime clients who’ve grown accustomed to nail services-or they are women who are only now finding the time or the necessity for nail services. According to the NAILS 2003-2004 Big Book, women ages 35-45 constitute a good chunk of your clientele-a full 28.4%

And whether they’ve been loyal clients for years or changes in their hands and nails have driven them to your table, all women in their 40s are confronting the same demon: time

They may still feel young and vibrant but are beginning to experience that with age comes dry, delicate skin and ridging or brittle nails. Keeping hands looking young and healthy is your main concern with ladies in their 40s. Snag these clients by assuaging their fears-focus your manicure on preserving the youthful appearance of their hands.

Finally, avoid overwhelming these clients with fads and trends. Simplicity and serenity are much more appealing to 40-somethings than glow in the dark tips. Offer an herbal tea, a heated neck pillow, or a pampering add-on instead.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Feel-good services that plump the skin and reduce fine lines and wrinkles are ideal for 40-somethings. Paraffin dips, exfoliating scrubs, microdermabrasion, and AHA products that slough off dead skin cells are all useful tools in combating the signs and effects of aging.

Service suggestion: A great option for use in the salon or as a retail item for at home use, microdermabrasion systems offer immediate results and long-term benefits. Easily incorporated into any manicure service, personal microdermabrasion systems improve the texture and appearance of skin on both hands and feet-and allow clients to tend to their skin between appointments.

SYNOPSIS: Baby boomers are redefining aging. Women in their 50s and beyond are living longer and retaining their vitality. “Research has discovered that the older women get, the more time, energy, and funds they devote to beauty services,” says Mark D. Foley, author of The Motivated Salon.

Women in their 50s and beyond must try to reverse the effects of aging. Sagging skin, age spots, and weakened nails are their lot –and they flock to your help. Focus on improving the health and appearance of their skin and nails. Offer add-on services that address these issues to your traditional manicure, or create a specialty manicure.

Be careful not to underestimate this set’s experiment streak. Older clients may be more than willing to try new art or daring polish colors. “About 40% of our clientele are seniors and of that, about 15% will try acrylics or alternative services,” says Terri Turner, owner of Nail Safari in Wilmington, N.C.

“An advantage to having an older clientele is that they get themselves groomed all year, whereas younger people tend to come in mostly during the summer months,” adds Turner.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Recommend effective yet luxurious natural nail services for the older set. Heated lotions, paraffin dips, skin lightening treatments, and extended massages to stimulate circulation will cater to their needs and keep their hands looking and feeling youthful for as long as possible.

Services suggestion: Using a complete anti-aging regimen on older clients gets the best results. With special ingredients included in a variety of products, including lotions, masks, exfoliating scrubs, and serums, nail techs can customize a client’s at-home maintenance program for the best results.

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